Kayla Newnam is nearing completion of a giant peacock mural in Roosevelt Row, and she’s inviting community members to help her paint it on Saturday, August 3.
The mural is located on the parking garage for the 1001 North Central Avenue building owned by True North Studio, which is headed by real estate developer Jonathon Vento. Newnam is the public art curator for True North, as well as an artist in residence.
True North paid $15.25 million for the building. It's situated on the northeast corner of Roosevelt Street and Central Avenue, adjacent to a light rail station where Newnam previously created a temporary mural for Valley Metro Light Rail.
True North owns several properties in Roosevelt Row, and has several projects planned for the area that’s been called one of the nation’s top arts districts. They include working with the Santa Fe-based arts and entertainment company Meow Wolf to create its first combined hotel and arts space.
The peacock mural was designed to “break up the monotony of a typical parking garage by adding a sense of fun,” according to the online event notice that invites community members to help with painting between 7 and 10 a.m. on Saturday, August 3.
The peacock is 26 feet tall and 40 feet wide, but the mural also includes other elements. Newnam expects to finish the project by August 16. The title is Not Another Bird Mural in Phoenix.
Roosevelt Row is already home to several bird murals. Brian Boner painted a massive flock of birds for The Garden mural on the west side of the monOrchid building in early 2016. Later that year, Lauren Lee's Three Birds in Flight mural was installed on the west side of an apartment complex just east of monOrchid.
Organizers are providing the paint and paintbrushes, as well as refreshments. They’re asking people to register online before attending, and come prepared with a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and clothes that can get covered in paint.
Turns out, Newnam has additional artwork in the area. She’s also painted a mural around part of the perimeter for the Roosevelt Growhouse, an urban garden located on land True North owns at Sixth Street south of Garfield Street.
Although her new mural will have a significant visual impact on the area, it’s entirely possible it won’t be a permanent addition to the Evans Churchill neighborhood that’s home to Roosevelt Row.
In March, True North announced plans to create a Roosevelt Land Yacht Club by wrapping the garage with a steel structure to create affordable artist housing using vintage travel trailers.
How people receive the new mural may depend in part on how they perceive the rampant changes taking place in Roosevelt Row.
The mural is “meant to bring joy and inspire that new pep in your step as you conquer the rest of your day with positivity,” according to True North’s invitation to Saturday’s event.
Odds are, some will see the giant peacock as a symbol of preening and putting show before substance in a part of downtown Phoenix they fear losing to the forces of gentrification.
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